Motivation: Why a Polar Literacy Initiative?

Impacts of climate change are unfolding at an accelerated rate in the Polar Regions compared to other areas of the Earth. While remote from much of humanity, the changes in these polar regions will have significant consequences for society over the short and long term.

Some examples of projected impacts by scientists

  • Potential disappearance of the Arctic icecap (Stroeve et al., 2008) in years to decades
  • Changes in the atmospheric jet stream, impacting weather patterns in the Northern Hemisphere (Francis and Skific 2015)
  • Alterations of economic trade routes, and the opening of new areas to natural resource extraction.
  • Increased atmospheric temperatures along the West Antarctic Peninsula. Here midwinter surface atmospheric temperatures have increased by 6°C (5.4 times the global average).
  • Retreating glaciers- an estimated 90 percent of Antarctica’s 674 glaciers are now in retreat with an increased calving rate (Fox, 2017).
  • Alteration of our coastlines through sea level rise measured not in centimeters but in meters. This is caused by increased melting of land-based ice sea ice and will result in long term changes (decades to centuries).
  • Changes in marine polar ecosystems